Monday, June 27, 2011

Its all about allowing the possibility . . . . .

Last December, couple of months after our daughter was born, we decided to get a HD camcorder and after some consultation with Dr. Google we narrowed down on a specific model of Canon. All the reviews said, the hardware is really good but the software is a piece of crap and most everything I looked at said “Canon should do a better job”. By the time the device came home I was convinced beyond reason that the software is junk.

To follow the procedure, I went ahead and installed the Imagemixer software provided with the camcorder on to my PC and it worked beautifully to transfer videos from the camcorder to the PC. The next step was to play on the TV, Canon went cheap here and doesn’t provide a HDMI cable but will provide a component cable (that for me is plain dumb). Like many of the Hi-def camcorders out there, Canon records the videos in AVCHD format which my Samsung TV doesn’t understand.

I went back to the installed software to see if there is a way to convert the video to a format that the TV understands. Once I clicked on “Edit”, the software went limbo and it completely disappeared from the screen. I was convinced, this is the reason everybody calls the software junk and went around looking for other video converters and editors. I have been trying for the last 6 months to see if I can find a good converter/editor and none of the so called good ones did any good, either they would hang or they would produce an inferior quality video and so on or they were too expensive and complicated to use.

I was so negative about the software that,  I had stopped using Canon provided software to play HD videos on the PC and was trying to use Windows media player and Picasa to play HD videos (which was a dumb thing to do) and had concluded that my PC is slow and need upgrading.  

It was not till last week when I changed my mind to consult Dr. Google with the symptoms I have been having with the Imagemixer software. It took less than couple of hours (thanks to this obscure forum) and I found out what was going wrong with the Imagemixer software. Apparently I had installed K-Lite codec (pretty good to play AVI files which Real Player and  others refuse to play) and it is not compatible with Canon provided software.

Once I uninstalled the K-Lite, the Imagemixer worked like a champ. I could see all my videos in one place, edit them (have only tried trim and nothing fancy), add music, text and upload all such good stuff. The integrated video player plays the 1080p video flawlessly (enough horse power in the PC). It still doesn’t do the conversion to different formats but the Blu-ray player we now own understands the AVCHD and that problem is solved.             

Looking back, I could have achieved this result long time ago, but I was so convinced that the software is bad that I did not allow for the possibility of getting it to work. Once I allowed for the possibility then it took minutes to get the problem fixed.     

PS: Keep in mind, HD videos mean ton of storage and both cores on my PC gets pegged when playing HD videos, but the quality makes it all worth it

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Then there was one . . . . . .

About 3 and half years ago (December of 2007), Sandhya and I decided that we should restart our aquarium which was sitting idle after the sudden demise of the previous fish. This time around we decided to get gold fish instead of the ever multiplying mollies. We got 2 first and then couple of weeks later added 2 more.

All  was well for nearly a year when one of the gold fish died due to an infection, then came the turn of the big white which passed away in 2009. Now in last couple of days, one other fish passed away. This one was in the very first batch we got and we used to call it a submarine for its round tubular shape. It was the biggest fish in the tank until our big white one day suddenly bulged up and became the biggest. He was a pretty friendly fish and some days we used to feed it with our hands. I am sure it lived a happy life for by the end of life it had grown 3 to 4 times its initial size (when we bought it). It survived our absence for weeks some times (India trips). I am glad it didn’t pass away while we were away, that would have been a more bitter tragedy. All good things have to come to an end and can never last for ever.  

That now leaves the whole tank with just one fish. I don’t know if the fish is feeling lonely or I am feeling that, we are debating about adding a couple more fish to the tank.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Everything is amazing but . . . .

The other day I was a watching a movie at home through Netflix streaming. I rarely watch a movie in 1 sitting unless I am sitting in a theater. So, I had  paused the movie at certain point the previous day. The next day when I started the movie I was hoping it will start at exactly the same location that I left off. To my disappointment, the movie started at some other previously paused location and not at the location I wanted. I cursed the Netflix interface on the TV and started forwarding to the point of interest, the internet couldn’t keep up with the forwarding and the only way to continue streaming was to reduce the picture quality.

Damn, 2 unacceptable things the same day and I was almost furious. Then suddenly I remembered the video shown to me by my good friends Anoop and Shraddha, titled “Everything is Amazing, but nobody is happy”. 

In the end I appreciated the fact that I am watching a movie in HD sitting at my home and went wow :).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wonder if Baba killed the Lokpal Bill

Remember back in April when Anna Hazare went on a fast until death at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and some of us did a token 1 day fast in support to end corruption. That was a time of excitement when even a pair of poodles supported the cause and the government agreed to work with Anna’s team to draft a Lokpal Bill. All was well and a joint committee was formed with members of civil society and parliament and the draft process began.

Out of the blue in comes our dear Baba Ramdev, who wanted to push his own agenda in the midst of this. I don’t find anything wrong in the noble intentions of our Baba but here is where I think he went wrong.

  • He wanted to bring all the black money hidden in different parts of the world immediately, what was he thinking or smoking? its not like we can invade Switzerland and Cayman Islands and other tax heavens and loot the money that is stored and only take that is rightfully ours. If nothing this will be a long drawn negotiation between different governments and if they agree on something then we can hope to get some of it back.
  • When Baba said bring the black money back, why didn’t he declare his 1100 crore assets which mostly owned by couple of his devotees (one of them being his relative) in the first place before asking further questions. I had no idea that Aastha channel was owned by Baba.
  • When you go on  a crusade like this, you need to choose your deputies carefully. Baba’s deputy Balakrishna is the focus of controversy, he acquired an Indian passport while being born in Nepal and why would a deputy of a Yoga guru need a rifle and a pistol.
  • His other demand of devalue 500 and 1000 Rupee currency is the height of stupidity.
  • The other thing I don’t get is when he agreed with the government that he will not go on a fast and signed on a piece of paper, why did he go on a fast that same day evening?
  • When the fast was disrupted why did he run away, one theory is he was scared of being encountered. So, being a revered yoga guru doesn’t he know that the soul is eternal and the body perishes some day and so what if that some day is today and if the mode is a bullet in the head (I am not supporting the governments action here). 
  • His last demand of hang the people who are corrupt, I thought yoga leads to non violence and peace achieved through non violence and action from within is the only lasting peace every thing else is momentary.
  • In the end I agree with Tehelka’s assessment that whatever Baba did was to show off his people power and increase his image and nothing more.

Thanks to the above, now Anna and team have to distance from Baba and the government can point play their cards and continue a war of words and stall the bill for ever to come.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Right tool (specialist mechanic) for the job is a must

When I graduated from grad school and took up the job in Austin, I transitioned to Austin with my used Toyota Camry. It was a fairly old but reliable car and I had expectations of it lasting a couple more years with me. I guess it didn’t like the weather in Texas and started having a unique problem, whenever I stopped the car the probability of it taking off again was very low. This problem I had noticed while in grad school but was occurring very rarely and the local mechanic in Rolla, MO couldn’t figure out what was wrong. With the driving pattern in Austin, the problem became real bad and it reached a point that I was scared to drive the car. I took it to run of the mill mechanic shops like Firestone, Break Specialists plus and even a Transmission repair shop. None could figure out what was wrong and eventually I donated the car to an Animal Shelter.

Fast forward to present, my present car VW Passat started experiencing similar problem as my old Camry. It was not really noticeable to me (I think it occurred once or twice that I had trouble taking off after I stopped) but the diagnostics built into the car cried foul and turned the CEL (check engine light) on. This time around I did my homework and took it to Austin Veedub a specialist in VW. The diagnosis came to that the RPM sensor on the car was broken, consulting Dr. Google with the symptoms I agreed with the diagnosis. The repairman replaced the part and the car is running like a champ. I wonder if the Camry also needed this part replaced and would have been fine.

The lesson I learnt from this experience is, when the car is in trouble either take it to a reliable and good dealer (which is usually a myth) or find a mechanic who specializes in my brand of car rather than taking it to the Midas or Break Specialist and so on. I could have taken the Camry to the dealer in town but considering I had only spent a couple thousand to buy the car I didn’t intend to spend another thousand to fix the car (at least that's what I thought at that time).